Chefs: Behind Healthy Food Choices, Encouraging Healthy Kids

Vivian Echo analysis

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says: “In the event of deficiency or excess, nutrition problems always involve inappropriate choices and practices, and nutrition education is an important step in enabling the consumer to make healthy food choices.”

Chefs are the core of those who help make healthy food choices; Trained professional chefs and merchandisers who are skilled in all aspects of food preparation.

Since 2004, chefs have been celebrated annually on October 20, as International Chefs Day.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the day was created by the late Dr. Billy Gallagher, celebrity chef and entrepreneur, who was President of the South African Chefs Association for 21 years.

Gallagher also became president of the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) in 1996.

Over the years, chefs around the world have partnered with platforms like Nestlé Professional – the company that supplies the food and beverage industry out of the home – to teach young children the importance of healthy eating through workshops around the world.

Nestlé Professional Nigeria celebrated International Chefs Day 2022 at the new Lagos State Culinary Academy, Ikeja, with students from public and private secondary schools across Lagos.

The event included training on the importance of healthy eating and lifestyle in line with this year’s International Chef’s Day theme: ‘Developing a Healthy Future’.
It was celebrated with a fun-filled educational workshop and hands-on sessions coordinated by the chefs with a hands-on approach to children.

They create recipes from fresh food items including vegetables and fruits and prepare healthy dishes during cooking sessions.
“The well-being of their children is the primary goal of parents and caregivers,” said Funmi Osini, Business Director at Nestlé Professional. It is also an indicator of societal development.

Therefore, we are committed to working with stakeholders to enhance the well-being of future generations through nutritional education as well as the continuous provision of high quality nutritious foods and beverages.

“Today’s event is a platform for ongoing engagement to encourage children to be creative with food.”

Osini has recognized the Association of Professional Chefs of Nigeria (APCN) for their ongoing partnership with Nestlé to achieve the company’s global goal of helping 50 million children lead healthier lives by 2030.

“We want to thank the Professional Chefs Association of Nigeria for partnering with us over the years.

“We are also grateful to the directors of the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Council for their collaboration to celebrate Chef’s Day 2022.

“We are pleased to witness the sincere interest in qualifying young people in Lagos State for gainful employment in the hospitality sector,” she added.

Speaking, Paul Okun, National President of the Association of Professional Chefs of Nigeria (APCN), said: “It has been a pleasure to engage, educate and enlighten children on healthy eating as we believe this is the foundation for a healthy future.

“We sincerely appreciate the role Nestlé Professional has played over the years, by promoting food tourism in Nigeria, supporting the development of chefs, and empowering the next generation of chefs.”

In her comments, Morunki Aziz, Executive Secretary of the Lagos State Technical and Vocational Education Board (LASTVEB), said: “We are delighted to be working with Nestlé on this commendable initiative which has been such a huge impact and a great learning exercise for children.

“This event is completely in line with the objective of the recently established Lagos Culinary Academy which aims to graduate professionals in the field of hospitality and food services while preparing students for entrepreneurship and self-employment.”

Talking about her experience, Chineese, an SS2 student at Elobigou High School, said she enjoyed the event and learned some practical meal recipes that she will cook at home.

On the importance of good nutrition, Dr. Mikoy Eric, Director of Training and Institutional Matters, APCN, explained: “It is our number one defense against disease and our source of energy for living and activity.

The nutritional challenges caused by an inadequate diet can be varied, and when it affects a younger generation, it can reduce their well-being and learning abilities.

“These could jeopardize their future.”

In some cases, he said, it can lead to an intergenerational cycle of malnutrition, which will eventually have severe consequences for both individuals and nations.

Good nutrition means your body is getting all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs to function best.

Good nutrition helps increase your energy level, improves disease resistance, and recovers from illness and injury; improves mental, cognitive, and physical health.

“It also reduces the risk of some diseases including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, some types of cancer, osteoporosis and high blood pressure as well as helps lower high cholesterol among others,” the chef said.

Chef Nick Magee, Vice President of South West, APCN, who provided tips on healthy eating, said: “We know how to talk around the world about climate change, floods, droughts and environmental pollution.

“There are many things that affect our environment and food is one of the biggest challenges in our environment.

“The way it is grown, harvested, preserved, distributed, prepared and eaten can all affect our environment.

“So, I encourage all of us to eat lots of fruit. Eat whole fruit rather than juices; eat lots of whole grains, have low-fat or fat-free milk.

Eat lean meat and poultry, too, as they contain less fat and fewer calories. Additionally, try other plant-based protein sources and drink plenty of water.”

In conclusion, Magee said that with a skilled chef, there would be healthy people, families and a nation.
“Without good food, you cannot have a healthy future.

“Research shows that if we want to grow a healthy future, we need to eat more vegetables, fruits and nuts and reduce red meat and sugar to about 50 percent.”

He advised the chefs to convey to the younger generation the need for a healthy meal for the healthy future of humanity.

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